all pictures Stewart Cairns for New York Times
We do go on about the urban infrastructure that is being wasted in rustbelt cities on the Great Lakes or the Erie Canal, that have water, highways and wonderful buildings that can be repurposed. (see Richard Florida on Tor-Buf-Chester) Mark Robbins, Dean of Syracuse University School of Architecture gets it- according to the New York Times, "His ambition was to help revive, and even remake, the city."
Downtown Syracuse was cut off by a highway in the 60's; buildings were abandoned, and Dean Robbins told the Times "The big resource in Syracuse is basically surface parking lots and vacant buildings."
So he bought a bank for $ 200,000 which is by any big city standard, chicken feed. "The only way you can get that stuff to happen is if people believe you are invested. The only way to get people to believe you are invested is to live here."
Other professors are joining him in the reoccupation of downtown. Leslie Kaufman writes of Kevin Lair, who left an architecture practice in Boston to join Syracuse as an assistant professor last fall, recently bought a 6,300-square-foot former bottling factory about 10 blocks north of Mr. Robbins for $165,000.
He said it was the prospect of taking part in the transformation of Syracuse that pulled him in. During his interview with Mr. Robbins, he realized that they shared a vision of melding academic thought with practical application.
"When I toured during my job interview, the main thing that stood out was the relationship of the school of architecture to the community," Mr. Lair said. ::New York Times